“You’ll never guess who’s having a baby…”
That is FOR SURE a true statement for me because, they were right. I never would have guessed who was having a baby, or should I say who was getting a baby.
Me. It was me who was getting a baby. 43-year-old me. Mom-of-seven-kids me. Two-kids-graduating-college me. In-the-middle-of-a-pandemic me. Yep, I’m the one. I was standing at a specialty hospital in St. Louis, Missouri picking up a 9-month-old, highly medically complex, baby boy at the age of 43. What. In. The. World?!
I call that sweet baby my biggest life curve. Talk about something I never saw coming. The cool thing? God saw it, and He knew a baby boy was exactly what our family needed. He also knew the support and encouragement we would need for the new path on which He had placed us. Not only had God prepared us for this journey, He had prepared the hearts of our dear church family for it, too. Seeing the incredible way our church has served us and other foster/adoption families has encouraged me to glean ways we, God’s church and people, can best serve the foster care community. Here are a few ideas you may enjoy considering.
F – Foster an environment where helping foster children is the usual. Create a church where it is “normal” to say yes to a foster placement, to be a foster home, to support foster care. Often foster care is a scary thing, and people are more comfortable not talking about it and keeping it at a distance. No, no, no. Based on how compassionately God spoke about the fatherless, we should be fervently and actively engaged in helping any child in need.
O – Offer to help.
- Offer to babysit so the parents can have a night or day out.
- Spend an afternoon helping the foster family with chores around the house.
- Send notes of encouragement to the bio children, foster children, and/or the foster parents.
- Take a meal to a family who has a new placement.
- Give encouraging words such as “You’re doing a great job!” “I love your heart to serve others.”
S – Share what God has given you. God does not give to us so that we can consume the blessings for ourselves. God gives to us in abundance so that we can give to others. Take what already belongs to God anyway – your house, time, care, spare bed, extra food, and yourself – and use it to serve others and further the Gospel. What do you have that can be used to help those in the foster care system? From small to big, there is something everyone can contribute.
T – Think biblically. What is keeping you from becoming a foster parent? Is the answer rooted in fear, comfort, convenience, or relinquishing of dreams and personal goals? Don’t let this keep you from opening your heart and home to a child who literally has absolutely no one. Educate yourself on what it takes to be a foster family and the many ways you can serve as one. Take the training classes that help you become informed but also don’t license you. In other words, you leave well-educated but not yet committed. Really consider becoming a foster parent. Don’t let fear, the unknown, or comfort hold you back from this amazing blessing. It will Change. Your. Life. for the better. Take the step of faith. You will grow like you never dreamed possible.
E – Engage the church. There are many avenues to engage the in helping the foster community.
- Make backpacks to be given to families when they get a new placement. Include socks, kids toiletries such as shampoo, toothpaste, and soap, toothbrush, a coloring book and crayons, a small toy, a hairbrush, and a box of goldfish.
- Have an awareness day at your church. Invite a local foster agency to send a representative to give an info presentation and share details with how to become more involved and engaged.
- Have a plan for steps to be taken when a child goes into care.
- Consider a Safe Families ministry.
- Have a relationship with local foster agencies so they can notify you when there’s a need.
- Create a space in your building where foster child/bio parent visits can take place.
- Sponsor a visitation room at your local foster care agency.
- Host community adoption/foster info events.
R – Reunify families. Offer counseling, rides to church, prayer, Bible study, discipleship, a meal, etc. to bio parents who are open to change and true help and hope. Consider where they are. They are in a horrible situation. They have lost their children and are often dealing with great guilt as this is a result of their own actions. If there is anywhere they should be able to find help, healing, and hope it’s the church. Introduce them to the Word and the great hope for the Gospel and the change it can bring to their lives.
No doubt about it, foster care is a messy, emotional, and all-encompassing world, but God is control of it all. Picking up a baby over three years ago has changed our family in ways for which we are deeply grateful. God has used a precious baby to change us to be more like Him and reveal and remove idols in our hearts of which we weren’t even yet aware.
Let me leave you with three things….
- The famous statement I have heard hundreds of times – “I would foster, but I could never let them go back.” To which I reply, “Perfect. Take a look at adoptuskids.org.” On this site you can go to “state photo list” or “meet the children” and see pages and pages of children who are ready to adopt. If a child is on this page, all family members, friends, etc. have been searched, and there is no one. These kids literally have not one person willing to take them.
- If you have questions or I can be a help to you in any way, please feel free to reach out to me firstname.lastname@example.org or 309-361-8467 call/text
- Take a look at Deuteronomy 15:7-11 where God commanded the Israelites to “open their hands wide” and help because the “poor shall never cease”. Verse 10 says God’s blessings will follow their giving and tells them to do so without grief.
“If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother:
But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth.
Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him nought; and he cry unto the Lord against thee, and it be sin unto thee.
Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him: because that for this thing the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto.
For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.”